July 23, 2018



Lucy has only been drawing for less than a year and this is her first finished botanical painting. 

For someone so new to art practice it is truly remarkable what she's been able to achieve in such a short time, expressing volume and subtlety of colour with such delicacy.

July 8, 2018


Maple Leaves

Fabienne's new painting of curling dried maple leaves showing both front and back in a delightful circular composition. 

She told me that she painted the back of the leaf quite quickly and was much happier with the result, after having spent so many weeks on the front, struggling to get the curls and shadows right. 

Sometimes things go better when you get out of your head and just trust yourself, your eyes and your brush. 
Easier said than done!

June 27, 2018


Magnolia Seed Pod

Pam's most recent painting, a dried magnolia pod, like a boat with its sleeping passengers. She's done a great job capturing the vivid colors and details that have remained after so much time. The pod itself is only a few inches long.

June 16, 2018



A few weeks ago I challenged Meriel to paint larger and to paint directly, without drawing her subject in first. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, Meriel lost most of the sight in one of her eyes a few years ago. She loved the experience of painting so much that after an initial stage of discouragement, she adapted to a looser approach and hasn't looked back since. 

For this painting I lent her my large watercolour block (12"x16") and off she went. She painted the flower head first, and came back a week later to add the leaves and stem. The resulting painting, a class favorite, is as light and airy as the flower supported by some dark, anchoring leaves. 

She has since purchased a larger block of her own and is painting in her local community garden space. I'll be posting some of those in the near future.

June 4, 2018


Autumn Leaf

Seduced by its vibrant colours, Nadia painted this dried leaf specimen over several months this winter. It was a long journey and she thought she might never get there but it was worth the effort. 

Below are the pictures I took of it as it developed along with the final painting so you can see how it came into colour before it reached completion.

February 21, 2018


Buddha's Hand | Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis

Yes, it is a lemon! And a beautifully exotic flowering shrub. But when it fruits it looks a bit like an octopus tree. Painting it was a challenge and Pam's study got cut short as it decayed and she couldn't find a replacement. Still, she started getting a good amount of it's bumpy skin painted before the end came. And the colour...
"Though it looks like a lemon gone wild, the Buddha's hand is actually a distinct fruit in the citron family. It has a sweet, lemon blossom aroma and no juice or pulp. The mild-tasting pith is not bitter, so the fruit can be zested or used whole."

February 20, 2018



Meriel's been painting in San Francisco, breaking all the rules as usual, and forging her own unique path! Great to see her keeping up her practice...

This painting is a mix of watercolour and ink. She's been attending a botanical painting class taught by Mary Harden, a well known and highly respected teacher in the northern part of California.

February 19, 2018


All three of KATHRYN MACDONALD'S submissions to the Art of the Plant were accepted! There is also a conference planned during the exhibition with guest instructors and speakers.

The show runs from May 10 - October 14th 2018 at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Stone Wall Gallery, Ottawa.

Big Leaf Maple | Acer macrophyllum

Douglas Fir | Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii

Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa

February 6, 2018


Three gourds

Challenging forms and textures!

January 10, 2018


Inside-out Birch Bark

A beach find followed by several months of careful work produced this rich and detailed painting. 
I love the colour saturation, luminosity and detail that Pam is achieving in her work.


Autumn Leaves

Inspired by the magnificent colours we experienced this fall.

January 7, 2018


Kathryn sent me these photos of her most recent paintings, submitted to the International Art of the Plant Exhibition along with her previous painting of Cottonwood Leaves and the Douglas Fir. We're all still waiting to find out if they've been accepted.

Kathryn has also been selling some prints of her paintings. She's in between lives right now so until she gets herself settled in her new home and sets up a web presence you can find out more about acquiring her artworks 
by contacting her directly at kate_mac@telus.net

Poplar Skeleton Leaf


 Big Leaf Maple - Acer macrophyllum

Sadly for us Kathryn is packing up and moving back to Ontario this year. She will be based just outside Ottawa where she's already found a botanical painting group to hang out with. We miss you already...

January 6, 2018


Anemone Shell

This watery jewel is one of Meriel's summer paintings. She has a thing for shells...

It's already been 5 years that Meriel has been painting with us and in that time I've had the privilege of watching her develop her skills through some difficult changes. She had a bicycle accident a few years ago that broke her leg and took the sight from one of her eyes. Despite the frustrations that came with that she kept on painting, approaching her limitations with the mind of an explorer. When she was able to adjust to her new vision she embraced what became an opening for a new, more diffuse way of painting, surprising us all with the results.

All that she learned early on is still present in her new paintings along with a blossoming freedom of expression. She still manages to capture an incredible amount of detail, now more impressionistic and flowing, and a wonderful luminosity. She's been focusing on developing her understanding of colour by limiting her palette and exploring new ways of seeing.

I'm always amazed at Meriel's ability to take whatever life hands her, use it to learn something new and then bring it forward to share it with all of us.

January 4, 2018



Meriel's last painting before her annual retreat to San Francisco, like a glowing little sun in our gray winter sky.

November 18, 2017



This is Nadia's first botanical study and she really succeeded in conveying the plump fullness 
of this little plant... a great start.

Nadia took my drawing class at Emily Carr years ago and wanted to take the painting class but got too busy with work. Already a graphic artist and illustrator, Nadia paints and draws and takes beautiful photographs.

October 30, 2017


Purple Peppers

A little window into Meriel's studio. She's been making her paintings on small cards that she then sends off to friends... it keeps her away from getting too hung up on perfection and remaining present in the process of painting itself.

October 28, 2017


Magnolia Skeleton Leaf

Time made this leaf this way, months outside in the winter rain and snow and sun. 
Pam made this painting over the summer months, slowly and carefully recording every fine line and detail. 
Time and patience and persistence, care and careful observation, time and the slowing down of the speed of life...

October 27, 2017


Pear and Grapes

A delicate conversation in red and green, Fabienne's most recent study. There's a peacefulness to this little painting that I find captivating, the luminosity and volume of the rounded forms floating in space...

October 26, 2017


Calla Lily

Yes, it really was this bright.

Elizabeth had a whole plant with many flowers, each of which started bright and vibrant but faded to a butter yellow before falling away too quickly. It was a bit frustrating having to switch from bloom to bloom in one painting but she got there in the end.

August 21, 2017


Capsicum annuum

A small painting with a monumental presence... this gorgeous green pepper is Fabienne's first finished piece. Fabienne started painting botanicals in June during the 4-day intensive at ECUAD. There is so much light, volume and translucency in this little gem, a very promising start!

May 17, 2017


Red Onion

This beautiful study in violets and reds took weeks to paint and it changed a lot over time. Pam kept it in the fridge between sittings and it held up remarkably well for the length of time, despite losing a few bits in the process.

Here is the original drawing, wonderfully rendered in great detail. Both works retain a great sense of roundness and dimension.

May 16, 2017


Lichen Branch

There are at least 6 different types of lichen on this little branch, a study in texture and colour...

A whole world clinging to a tiny branch...

...like earthbound, breathing barnacles.


Falling Leaves

Autumn leaves falling through space...

May 7, 2017


Poplar #3
Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa 

Kathryn's most recent Poplar branch.

The details are worth a closer look.

Kathryn loves to paint branches... the woody parts with all their bumps and shapes... she calls it "dessert"... the reward after wrestling with the hard-to-control washes below the veining in the leaves. It's hard to see the variety of colours in the photograph, but this branch has blue and green and yellow and violet in it. 

April 29, 2017


Vine Maple | Acer circinatum 

One of Kathryn's most recent paintings... crispy, dry Vine Maple leaves complete with offspring.

January 13, 2017


Turban Squash | Cucurbita maxima cultivar

Pam painted the brilliant orange of this winter squash like a beacon illuminating the darkness of winter. Not just a play of light and colour but also of shape... the square in the circle, the circles in the square, stripes and spots and textures, and the deep centre in all its detail. 

What she lacks in culinary charms she more than makes up for in sheer good looks...

Described in the nineteenth century as "the most beautiful in color, and the most worthless 
in quality, of all the varieties of squash;...coarse, watery and insipid."  
Gregory, James J. H. (1893). Squashes: How to Grow Them

November 10, 2016


Poplar #2
Eastern Cottonwood | Populus deltoides

Amazing and unusual autumn colours on this small branch of poplar leaves! 

This detail shows some of the remarkable colour patterns and the fine brushwork in the stem.

These leaves were painted on Arches 300lb hot pressed paper. There was much less flocking this time, and the crisp edges were easier to achieve (see 2 posts below, Poplar Leaves # 1, for notes on paper comparison with Fabriano).

November 2, 2016


Spanish Lavender | Lavandula stoechas

This beautiful sprig of lavender looks so alive thanks to Pam's careful painting.
The composition highlights the bend of the blossoms in the wind.

A closer look reveals the range of colors and delicacy of the brushwork.

November 1, 2016


Poplar #1
Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa


A crisp branch of rusty poplar leaves... 

 ...and a closer look inside the process.

This painting was done on Fabriano Artistico 300 lb Hot Pressed paper. 

There have been quite a few botanical artists experiencing problems with this paper lately, including Kathryn. It has a tendency to bleed and make washes blotchy and hard to handle. Crisp edges have been hard to achieve, and the consistency of the paper is proving unreliable.

Some artists are returning to Arches, as you will see with Kathryn's next painting. 

Others are trying out Moulin du Roy, sized with starch instead of the usual gelatin. 

October 31, 2016


Birch | Betula papyrifera

 Kathryn's lace leaf, picked up from the forest floor, and painted twice life size, or 2:1.

A closer look at the delicately rendered details, where you can see that each vein has dimension.